For months Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has been rumored as the next agency head on the chopping block for career decapitation. Citing a lackluster performance with immigration enforcement, President Donald Trump canceled a trip to the U.S.-Mexico border earlier this month, fanning rumors of her imminent firing.
But a hardline toward the migrant caravan, coupled with a social media campaign promoting the president’s hawkish immigration policies, may have saved Nielsen from a publicized Trumpland ousting. In a lengthy statement uploaded to the Department of Homeland Security’s Facebook page, Nielsen lauded Trump for his decision to send military forces to the border “to bolster our ports of entry and provide force protection for Customs and Border Protection” ahead of the caravan’s arrival—The New York Times reports roughly 6,000 migrants are currently at the border, 2,000 of whom have applied for asylum. After issuing a memo to other Cabinet officials requesting civilian police to deter migrants, Nielsen found herself back in Trump’s good graces, according to POLITICO.
“The recent developments with Mexico and her strong Facebook post have helped subside the speculation on her future,” a source close to Nielsen told the publication.
The president’s newfound support of Nielsen amid the caravan’s arrival mirrors the duo’s relationship during the Trump administration’s family separation crisis over the summer. After White House spox Sarah Huckabee Sanders bowed out of a press conference, Nielsen flew in to defend the White House’s controversial “zero tolerance” policy, claiming Trump wanted “a long-term fix” for immigration.
Although Trump and Nielsen signed an executive order several days later terminating family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border, the DHS Secretary’s performance earned the president’s respect and praise.
“Good job,” Trump told Nielsen at the time of the signing.